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A Guide to Gluten-Free Flour

Written by: Leora Aframian, MS, RDN

Gluten-free diets are rising in popularity as more people are discovering a celiac diagnosis or gluten intolerance. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye among other grains that can cause adverse reactions when ingested. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the intestines and the absorption of key vitamins and minerals including, iron, folate, calcium, and vitamin D. Conversely, those with gluten intolerance may experience uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms without damage to the intestines (Brown).


The frequency of these new diagnoses or personal discoveries has more brands entering the market, offering a plethora of gluten-free products. The options can be almost dizzying. Not all gluten-free flours are created equally. The specifics of each one may offer a different nutritional profile and can vary in taste and texture.


Let’s compare some of these wheat flour alternatives and see which might tickle your gluten-free fancy.



4 Gluten-Free Flours And Their Nutritional Profile


1. Lentil Flour ¼ c of lentil flour contains approximately

170 calories

29 grams of carbohydrates

14.5 grams of fiber


Among its other nutrients, lentil flour is also high in protein-containing 12 grams of protein for just ¼ of the cup. The high protein content in lentils can help with feelings of satiety, which can effectively aid in weight management. Lentil flour is packed with fiber which can help manage cholesterol. Additionally, lentils are also a good source of iron, potassium, and folate. Lentil flour is made from ground uncooked lentils and is a common ingredient in much gluten-free pasta on the market (Stewart).


2. Coconut Flour ¼ cup of coconut flour contains approximately: 120 calories 18 g of carbohydrates 12 grams of fiber


Coconut flour is made from dried and ground coconut meat and carries a higher fiber content than most grain flour alternatives. When substituting, try starting with 1/3 to ¼ of a cup of coconut flour per cup of all-purpose flour. The standard recommendation is to use 20% of coconut flour for grain-based flour. Additionally, the higher fiber content in coconut flour absorbs liquid more readily, as such, it is recommended to increase liquid called for in the recipe. Coconut flour can be used in baking, coating proteins, or thickening for soups and stews (Levinson).


3. Banana Flour ¼ cup of almond flour contains approximately : 110 calories 26 grams of carbohydrate 2 grams of fiber


Banana flour is made from dehydrated unripe bananas that are ground into a flour. Due to its high starch contact banana flour can work nicely as an alternative to traditional white flour. Instead of using a banana flour as a blend, like most other gluten-free flours are used, just use approximately 30% less banana flour than traditional flour as called for in the recipe. Banana flour is unique in its high resistant starch content. Resistant starch is prebiotic which helps promote a healthy gut. Additionally, a unique characteristic of resistant starch is that it is not digested in the small intestine which helps to lower the insulin response. It is important to note that resistant starch can be lost with high heat. Try banana flour in no-bake recipes to receive the benefits that resistant starch can bring to your product (Levinson).


4. Oat Flour ¼ cup of oat flour contains approximately: 120 calories 22g of carbohydrates 3 g of fiber


Oat flour is one of the easiest flours to prepare at home. Purchase rolled oats and toss them in a food processor until desired consistency. 1 ¼ cup of oats yields 1 cup of oat flour. Oat flour carries a soft flavor, so it won’t overpower your product. Try using oat flour in products such as cookies that do not require proofing (Bon Appetit). Oats contain beta glucagon, a soluble fiber, that is associated with reduced insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and obesity (Khoury et al).


There are more many more gluten-free flour types than mentioned above, but hopefully, this will provide a jump start as you experiment in the kitchen or the grocery store and expand your gluten-free horizons.

Although these flours may be inherently gluten-free, they may be exposed to other grains containing gluten during milling or processing. As such, it is best to check product labels before purchasing to ensure gluten-free status and avoid flare-ups.

References:


1. “Oat Flour.” Bon Appétit, Condé Nast, 21 Feb. 2018, www.bonappetit.com/test-

kitchen/ingredients/article/oat-flour.


2. Brown, Marlisa. “Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity — Learn About the Differences

Plus Counseling Strategies for Patients.” Today's Dietitian, Apr. 2013, p. 12,

www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/040113p12.shtml.


3. Khoury, D. El, et al. “Beta Glucan: Health Benefits in Obesity and Metabolic

Syndrome.”Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 11 Dec. 2011, pp. 1–28.,

doi:10.1155/2012/851362.


4. Levinson, Jessica. “Alternative Gluten-Free Flours.” Today's Dietitian, May 2018, p. 28,

www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0518p28.shtml.

Stewart, EA. “The Ultimate Guide to Pulse Flours.” Today's Dietitian, May 2020, p. 34.

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